The text under interpretation is The Happy Man by William Somerset Maugham

First some information about the author. W. S. Maugham was a well-known English playwright, novelist and short story writer. He was the son of a British diplomat. He was educated at King’s school in Canterbury, studied painting in Paris, went to Heidelberg University in Germany and studied to be a doctor at St. Thomas Hospital in England. So, he put his hand in different activities and that’s why he is a versatile and experienced person. S. Maugham was critical of the morals, the narrow-mindedness and hypocrisy of bourgeois society.
Such novels as “Of Human Bondage”, “The Moon and Sixpence”, “The Theatre” and others came under his pen. He was also the master of the short story. Among them are: “Colonel’s Lady”, “Friend in Need”, “Lion’s Skin”, etc. S. Maugham was among the most popular writers of his era, and reputedly, the highest paid author during the 1930s. I like this author. S. Maugham’s style of writing is clear and precise. He doesn’t impose his views on the reader. He puts a question and leaves it to the reader to answer. 1 also like his reveling the weak sides and vices of human nature skillfully.
Well, this text is about a successful man, who had a good job, a family, a nice flat in London, but he wasn’t satisfied with his life and made up his mind to give up everything for uncertainty. But, why is this man unhappy? He seems to have everything to be happy. But he doesn’t consider himself happy. He is unpleased with his life. And the question arises: What is happiness then? I believe that each person has his own values in life. Everyone has his own ideas about happiness. And this text is dedicated to the man who is trying to find his happiness.

1 liked this text. It made me think about the values in life and about what happiness is. So, the main problem of this text is that everyone is an architect of his own fortune. f’he main characters of this text are: the narrator and doctor Stephens. The structure is a bit unusual because of a philosophical digression which makes the reader think about the attitude to life, relations with people and values in hfe. The general slant of the text is matter-of-fact. f rom the very beginning of the text we learn about the author’s reflections <wd thoughts on the problem with the help of the I st person narration.
The narratorsaid he always hesitated to give advice. And we can only guess at the thoughts and emotions of our neighbours. Each one of us is a prisoner in a solitary tower and he communicates with the other prisoners, who form mankind, by conventional signs that have not quite the same meaning for them as for himself. Life is a difficult business and it is something that you can lead but once. Here we come across some rhetorical questions such as: “Who am I that 1 should tell this one and that how he should lead it? Sometimes men said to me what shall I do with my life? These rhetorical questions draw our attention to the problem which is very difficult. Such lexical stylistic devices as epithets (“confiised”, “dangerous”), metaphors (“each one of us is a prisoner in a solitary tower”, “to be the finger of fate”, “to be wrapped in the dark cloak of Destiny”) reinforce that life and relations between people are dangerous and difficult. There is misunderstanding between people. No one can know other people as himself. Such periphrasis as “neighbours” and defining pronouns such as “everybody”, “each” show that each person should lead his life himself.
But there are men who flounder at the journey’s start; the way before them is confused and hazardous. Such bookish words as “irreparable (mistakes)”, “flounder”, “hazardous” and “conventional” emphasize that life is a difficult thing. 1 enjoyed the philosophical digression and I agree that life is really difficult. Mistakes are often irreparable because we can lead our life only once and everybody should make his own choice. It depends on each person whether he will be happy or not. Further on the narrator admitted that once he advised well. He was a young man and lived in a modest apartment in London, near Victoria Station.
Late one afternoon he heard a ring at the bell. He opened the door to a total stranger. This moment kept me in suspense. Who was that stranger? Why did he come to the narrator? The narrator led him into his sitting room and begged him to sit down. Then the narrator offered him a cigarette and he had some difficulty in lighting it without letting go off his hat. When he had satisfactorily achieved his feat he quickly put his hat on a chair and while doing it dropped his umbrella. With the help of the indirect method we can understand his inner state.
He seemed a trifle embarrassed, uneasy, lost, upset and anxious. Such hyperbole as “he achieved his feat” emphasizes this fact. Then he said that his name was Stephens and he was a doctor. He had read the narrator’s book about Spain and wanted to ask him about it It seemed strange to me why he came to the narrator with such a question? №Ъу was he interested in Spain? But most of all 1 wondered why he was so embarrassed? Let’s see. Then Stephens told the narrator about his life. The repetition of the pronoun “I” and “past perfect” stress his being displeased with his life, e. g. I was brought up by old aunts. I had never been anywhere. I had never done anything. I had been married for six years. I can’t stick it any more”. Then we come across the direct description. He was a little man, with a round red face from which shone small, dark and very bright eyes. He was dressed in a blue suit. It was baggy at the knees and the pockets bulged untidily. Such epithets as “bright (eyes)”, “absent-mindedly”, “perfect (stranger)” prove the fact of his being anxious. So, we came across a total stranger who was very embarrassed and uneasy. He had a lost expression.
He seemed to have everything for happiness but he was unpleased with his life. After that Stephens asked the narrator whether there would be any chance for an English doctor in Spain. He explained to the narrator that he just had a fancy for it. Then Stephens tried to convince himself. He said that there was sunshine there, and there was good wine, and there was air you could breathe. The parallel constructions – “there was… there was” prove that he wanted to convince himself and answer why he wanted to go to Spain. Then he asked the narrator if it was madness to give up a good job for an uncertainty.
This question and the expressive word “madness” show that he was in two minds and it was very difficult for him to make a choice. The epithet “great (risk)” emphasizes that this choice was very difficult and dangerous and it demonstrates how hard the consequences may be. But the narrator said that the choice depended on Stephens. His whole future was concerned: he had to decide for himself. The repetition of the pronoun “You” and the modal verb “must” (“You must decide for yourself. You will lead a wonderful life”) emphasizes that the choice was up to Stephens.
Then Stephens left him and the episode passed completely from the narrator’s memory. So, the choice was really uneasy and for this man it was difficult and risky. His happiness depended on his choice. Then it became obvious that many years later, 15 at least, the narrator happened to be in Seville and, having some trifling indisposition, went to the English doctor. When they did their business the doctor said there was no fee. The narrator asked “Why on earth not? ” And the doctor explained that he was Stephens and reminded him of their conversation.
Stephens said that the narrator had changed his whole life for him. Stephens didn’t say how the narrator had changed his life. But 1 suspected that he was happy because he didn’t take fee and then we came across the repetition “I was wondering… 1 was wondering if I would have a chance of thanking you”, which proves that his choice was successful. We learn that all those 15 years he was happy and waited a chance to thank the narrator. It means that he was really happy. The epithets “(his eyes twinkled) gaily”, “perfect good (humour)”, “sympathetic (appearance)” prove this fact.
The clothes he wore were terribly shabby. So, we can see that his appearance didn’t change but he was happy at heart in comparison with the beginning of the text. The narrator compared him with Silenius and remarked that “his black eyes flashed a bacchanalian smile”. This simile and the epithet “delightful (creature)” prove once more his being happy and pleased with his life. His choice was really a success. Then the narrator asked about Stephens’s wife and he answered that his wife didn’t like Spain and went back to Camberwell, but Stephens was not distressed.
After that we learn about his new wife, a Spanish woman and we understand why he wasn’t upset. The epithets “boldly” and “voluptuously beautiful” show that life is full of compensations. In the end he said that he wouldn’t exchange the life he had had with that of any king in the world. It means that he was now really satisfied with his life. He took the risk and became happy. In conclusion I’d like to say that by example of this character we can see that we should not be afraid of venture. Who wants to be happy will become happy. Fortune favours the bold.

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